Officer Down, I Survived. Non Life Threatening Injuries Doesn’t Mean Non Life Changing.
With everything that I’ve been through over the last two and a half years, I feel like I have a lot to say. Now I don’t always want to say it, but today I have a couple things that I want everyone to know. This isn’t just me. I am speaking for a majority of law enforcement officers who went to work and nearly didn’t make it home to their loved ones.
In a Moment Everything Changed.
Literally speaking, from one day to the next, I went from a decorated law enforcement officer who had an incredibly supportive fiancé and family; having directly and indirectly saved many lives over the course of a 15 year career, to a decorated law enforcement officer who on the very last shift of my career, unbeknownst to me ended up having to save my own life by taking anothers, as I lay on a cold sidewalk with a single gun shot wound. Alone and bleeding, that bullet pierced through my pelvis barely missing my femoral artery and lodged into my lower spine.
A Long Road Of Recovery
After the shooting I spent two weeks in the hospital and then two very long and arduous years trying to recover and get my life back, while feeling sorry for myself. I would constantly wish that I died that night because of the burden I felt like I had become. Initially I was surrounded by so many friends and family members who showed me the type of support we should all have after being involved in what is most likely the worst type of incident that a law enforcement officer can be involved in. It only took a few short months for nearly all of that support to be ripped away from me, everybody returning back to their own lives while ours stood still. I know that I am not the only one who has had that very same thing happen to them, and that is why I am writing this.
I was pissed. Rightfully so. The thin blue line was supposed to be a family. My family. A brotherhood. The type of family that I had been a part of since the early 90’s. Friends that I had for several years never once contacting me or my wife, never came to visit us during the two weeks that I was in the hospital or the entire time that I was at home trying to recover both mentally and physically. Dealing with and fighting the demons I struggled with after being shot and having to take a life virtually alone. I went about a year thinking that I’d rehab and recover enough to get back out on the street, to fight evil again with my brothers and sisters in blue, but that day never came. At that point I had to also come to terms with it with really only my family by my side. I am now permanently disabled but I’m not mad anymore. I no longer feel sorry for myself and I certainly do not wish that I had bled out and died on that cold sidewalk. I love my blue blooded family and I’ve still got my own family who depends on me each and every day to continue getting better.
I’m Still Here For A Reason.
I am still here for a reason, all of us who have survived are still here for a reason, whether you’re a law enforcement officer or a civilian victim of a violent crime. One thing that I learned through my recovery which still holds true to this day is that if you haven’t personally been through something like we have, you will never truly understand it. Unless you’ve been through it or have watched a loved one go through it, you just won’t get it. You will never know the amount of fight, grit, love and determination that it takes to come out the other end of something like what I went though and be a better person for it. I have PTSD. I struggle with depression and really some nasty anxiety. Almost three years later and it is still an everyday struggle to complete even the simplest of tasks that I used to complete before all of this with ease.
I know for a fact that there were a lot of people who didn’t want me to live just because of who I was and what I represented when I put the uniform and badge on to go to work. I also know for a fact that there are still others out there who want to see me fail, and I won’t do it. I also do not want to see anyone else fail, anyone who has been through what I have deserves to get better, no matter what our differences may be. That doesn’t matter, what matters is your well-being. I could use only half of the determination I had the night that I won my gunfight, and use half of the grit and focus I’ve brought to my recovery to crush everything else that I want to accomplish during this second chance at life that I have. I won’t give up and I will always strive to be the best that I can. I can’t afford to give up and my family can’t afford me to give up.
Just Surviving Is Not An Option.
If you are a law enforcement officer who has been catastrophically injured in the line of duty, don’t ever give up. Don’t ever stop working as hard as you can to get better physically and emotionally. Whatever your 100% is, achieve it. Don’t ever listen to anybody who says that you cannot do something. If you are a civilian who finds yourself in a position like ours, you must do the same, just surviving is not an option; win at everything else that you do and become better for it because we can all do it. Together.
I never thought that I would walk again, I never thought that I’d work again and thrive; but I am. There isn’t anyone or anything that can stop us once we’ve proven to ourselves that we can get better, plain and simple. Do it. Don’t ever stop pushing yourself, because giving up is a choice but it is not an option. Choose great!
Train. Fight. Survive. Win.
- According to the United States Department of Labor, Police officers have a higher risk of incurring a work-related injury or illness than most other occupations.